The holiday season can be full of fun, friends and family, but the season can also be a source of stress for veterans. Stress can affect your health and become a problem when the stress begins to feel overwhelming. Here are some tips that can assist you when the seasons stress starts to take over.
- Get physical —Take a brisk walk or be physically active in another way. Regular activity is best. Even a 10-minute chunk of active time each day can help!
- Be part of the solution — Use your military learned problem-solving skills. They can improve your ability to cope. Your local VA medical center may offer a class or information session. A web-based problem-solving program called “Moving Forward” is also available at http://www.veterantraining.va.gov.
- Learn to relax — remember your relaxation and mindfulness skills. They can help you manage stress and even protect you from it.
- Express yourself — keeping your thoughts bottled up can increase stress. So speak up in respectful ways. Sharing thoughts and feelings in a polite yet firm manner can help reduce stress.
- Manage Your Time — List what needs to get done, make plans for addressing issues, and stick to the plan as best you can.
- Use positive power — Stress often is associated with negative, self-critical thinking. Focus your attention on positive thoughts about yourself and others.
- Enjoy yourself — despite extra pressures from busy schedules, it’s important to take time for yourself. Plan something you enjoy.
One of the most important ideas that you can realize during this holiday season is that you are not alone. In order to get help when needed, you must first be willing to let others know how you feel and be able to ask for support.
Being able to actively seek information, advice or additional options for tackling the stressful challenges that affect your health, activities or relationships can be a great first step. Consider connecting with a good friend, a primary care provider (ask them if they have experience treating veterans), a mental health professional or therapist, the local VA Medical Center or local Vet Center, and any spiritual or religious advisor that you are comfortable with.
Resources for veterans and their families are:
Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255 and press 1, or visit www.veteranscrisisline.net
National Center for PTSD: www.ptsd.va.gov
VA Women Veterans Call Center: 1-855-VA-Women (1-855-829-6636). https://www.womenshealth.va.gov/WOMENSHEALTH/ProgramOverview/wvcc.asp
Center for Women Veterans: www.va.gov/womenvets
Defense Suicide Prevention Office: www.suicideoutreach.org
Hope for the Warriors Care Management Services: Provides programs to assist wounded service members and their families through family care, financial needs, morale trips and professional development. www.hopeforthewarriors.org
National Call Center for Homeless Veterans: 877-424-3838 or chat live online at www.va.gov/homeless/nationalcallcenter.asp.